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 APCTT Working Paper on Harnessing Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Technologies for Climate Change Mitigation in the Asia-Pac APCTT Working Paper on Harnessing Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Technologies for Climate Change Mitigation in the Asia-Pac
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As climate change impacts are getting more intense, all nations around the world are eagerly ramping up joint efforts to ensure the planet's sustainability. Many initiatives are being undertaken with the hope to accomplish the target of net-zero emissions as soon as possible. However, over the past two years the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted global socio-economic conditions and aggravated the challenges being faced by countries. To address these social, economic and environmental issues and “build back better”, the development of advanced tools such as the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies would be crucial, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. This paper discusses the opportunities, challenges, innovations and strategies to enhance climate change mitigation with 4IR technologies from sectoral perspectives and provides policy recommendations based on the analysis.

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SSWA Development Papers 22-01 - Strategies to Promote Regional Power Grid Connectivity and Cross-Border Electricity Trade (CBET) SSWA Development Papers 22-01 - Strategies to Promote Regional Power Grid Connectivity and Cross-Border Electricity Trade (CBET)
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Countries of the South and South-West Asia subregion have mutual complementarities in terms of their energy resource endowments as well as their aggregate energy supply-demand patterns, providing ideal conditions for implementing CBET at the subregional level. The levels of energy integration through an interconnected power grid in the subregion has been suboptimal so far due to various constraints by way of capacity limitations and lack of political consensus. However, there have been several bilateral and plurilateral initiatives for grid connectivity and trade in electricity, which can potentially become building blocks for broader CBET in the subregion. 

This technical paper takes stock of various initiatives in the SSWA subregion for promoting power grid integration and trade in electricity with the aim of exploring framing a forward-looking agenda for CBET in the subregion. It reviews existing legal and institutional frameworks on energy cooperation under the subregional intuitions of SAARC, BIMSTEC and ECO as well as various bilateral and plurilateral power purchase agreements (PPAs) and transmission service agreements (TSAs). The paper finds that existing frameworks at the subregional level provides several valuable overarching provisions which can guide broader CBET, while bilateral PPAs and TSAs can be scaled-up for creating a transparent, mutually beneficial and market oriented regulatory environment for promoting it. However, concerted actions from all member countries are needed in adapting their respective domestic policies and practices with respect to the energy sector and in harmonizing regulations at the regional level to cater to the needs of free trade in electricity. They also need to work together to improve coordination with each other and to create a conducive institutional architecture for CBET.      
 

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Nepal’s fight against the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic Nepal’s fight against the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic
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The second wave of COVID-19 pandemic hit Nepal between April and July 2021 and was substantially more devastating that the first wave. As of 31 March 2021, Nepal had been cautious over the possibility of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. Surge in new cases in neighboring India was a cause of concern. Considering the frequent cross-border movement of people along the 1,800 km-long porous border, rising cases in India threatened to spill over into Nepal. This unfettered movement, together with continuation of political rallies, religious and social functions and other public activities where people congregate, resulted in the onset of the second wave in Nepal by mid-April 2021. This paper reviews some of the steps adopted by Nepal for curbing the second wave and policy lessons thereof.

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Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are fast embracing the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies and the coronavirus pandemic has fast-tracked the adoption of such technologies. At the same time, the pandemic has adversely impacted the advancements towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While many developed and some developing countries are harnessing the benefits of 4IR technologies to achieve their SDGs, there is a risk that many developing and least developed countries (LDCs) could be left behind.

Given this situation, this paper presents an overview of the status, opportunities and challenges related to 4IR technologies for sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific and draws some lessons for regional cooperation. It presents a comparison of the countries with respect to adaptation of 4IR, their strengths and the opportunities that they bring to the countries in the region. It presents cross-country examples of enabling policy mechanisms to promote 4IR technology, innovation and its applications for sustainable development; both at the national level and at the regional level. It outlines select initiatives related to facilitating innovation; 4IRbased partnerships/collaborations and transfer of technology. The paper then presents the key challenges related to innovation, development and transfer of 4IR technologies. These include low research and development spending, digital infrastructure and access gap, regulation and policy gaps, and skill and education gaps. These gaps are more prominent for the developing countries and the LDCs and are accentuated by the barriers related to cross-border technology transfer, investment and trade. To overcome these challenges, the paper makes recommendations on (a) how countries in the region can jointly harness the benefits of 4IR (b) work together to address their common concerns (c) learn from each other’s best practices (d) work together to reduce the digital divide and achieve SDGs and (e) how the Asia-Pacific region can utilize the platforms of South-South cooperation and Triangular cooperation for accelerating the adoption of 4IR technologies. The paper presents a ‘regional roadmap’ to accelerate innovation and transfer of 4IR technologies in Asia-Pacific to achieve SDGs by 2030. 

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APCTT Working Paper on Contextualizing Transformation of Healthcare Sector in Asia-Pacific in the Post-COVID-19 Era APCTT Working Paper on Contextualizing Transformation of Healthcare Sector in Asia-Pacific in the Post-COVID-19 Era
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The paper lays out a broad framework to reimagine healthcare systems using the digital technologies as one of the core pillars in the Asia-pacific countries. It argues that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed serious flaws in the design of traditional healthcare systems in both advanced and developing countries of the Asia Pacific. The experiences of the past two years with COVID-19 have proven that any highly infectious disease which make many people sick, will quickly overrun hospitals and lead to the collapse of the health system and economic ruin. Thus, it is clear that the healthcare systems in their present conditions are not able to withstand the pandemic. However, COVID-19 has also triggered a great pivot towards the use of digital technologies, AI, and big data in health industries across the Asia-Pacific region. The emergence such digital innovations have enabled policymakers and innovators to imagine the era of the “hybridtact” healthcare industry, where the traditional “contact” hospital and healthcare systems are “married” with digital and online systems (untact healthcare) to revolutionize how bio-health and healthcare services are delivered to millions of users. This paper lays out a strategic framework for stakeholders in healthcare, and highlights some of the key issues to consider in implementing hybridtact healthcare. 

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Key elements for developing ageing policies in Asia and the Pacific Key elements for developing ageing policies in Asia and the Pacific
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The working paper provides guidance on what should be considered when policies on population ageing and older persons are being developed. It provides information on the policy context and existing global policy instruments that inform ageing policies. It further discusses how policy responses to population ageing and addressing the situation of older persons can be developed, ranging from establishing institutional arrangements, policy planning, stakeholder engagement as well as planning for implementation and monitoring. The paper provides a range of policy options and good practice examples of policies and processes from countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The paper concludes with a checklist of policy elements and processes to consider in the policy process.

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SSWA Development Papers 21-04 - Leveraging Regional Cooperation for Achieving the SDGs in South Asia SSWA Development Papers 21-04 - Leveraging Regional Cooperation for Achieving the SDGs in South Asia
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Greater regional development cooperation is critical for South Asia to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of SDG interventions. The subregion has been lagging in terms of its overall progress towards the SDGs. Sharing similar structural constraints and challenges including disproportionate dependency on agriculture, industrial stagnation, huge infrastructural gaps, inadequate access to public services, increasing inequalities and marginalization of the poor and vulnerable sections of the population, South Asian countries collectively reveal characteristics that calls for enhanced regional cooperation. Moreover, bound together by geography, shared natural resources, riverine systems, agro-climatic zones and consequent common environmental vulnerabilities, the subregional countries also exhibits transboundary linkages that make regional cooperation an absolute necessity. The need for greater policy coordination and collaboration is also accentuated by the socio-economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has endangered developmental gains achieved by the subregion over many years. 

This paper examines how regional cooperation could be utilized as a powerful tool to support and complement the national level SDG implementation efforts. It appraises the main areas of sustainable development that can benefit from enhanced regional cooperation and explores various ways and means to achieve it. The paper finds potential beneficial outcomes of cooperation in a wide range of policy areas including elimination of poverty and hunger, improved access to health, education and universal social protection, trade, connectivity, energy, technology, development financing and environmental sustainability. The paper further presents ways and means to strengthen and build on existing institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks for enhanced cooperation for achievement of the SDGs in South Asia.
 

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UNESCAP South and South-West Asia – COVID-19 Updates No.1 UNESCAP South and South-West Asia – COVID-19 Updates No.1
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Second wave: some facts

The second wave of COVID infections in India started in mid-March 2021 (when the long-term downward trend in daily cases reversed and started rising) and lasted for about 3 months till mid-June 2021.2 At its peak, the daily new infections reached about 400,000 (0.41 million) cases (7-days moving average) in the first week of May 2021, which was more than 4 times higher than the previous peak figure of 0.097 million cases per day observed in mid-September 2020. By 21 June 2021, the latest reported figure, average of daily new infections has fallen to about 60,000 continuing a downward trend and exhibiting waning effects of the second wave. About 62% (about 18.5 million) of the total cumulative infections in India (29.9 million as of 20 June 2021) occurred during the second wave.3 The second Covid-19 wave has also been more deadly, accounting for nearly half of the total cumulative deaths (0.38 million deaths) since January 2020.4

The unexpected surge in new daily COVID-19 infections during the second wave put immense pressure on health systems across the country, overwhelming COVID-19 care facilities and human resources acting as first responders. Critical drugs and medical oxygen were found to be insufficient to meet the sudden surge in their requirement at the peak of the second wave.5 It also exposed initially, to certain extent the lack of preparedness of Government to take actions, in case of a recurrence of second wave, however, later the Government took some quick actions to contain the infections. The mutated Delta variant (The B.1.617.2 variant of COVID-19 virus), the most common in the samples sequenced during the second wave in India, which is observed to have spread faster and therefore potentially more infectious, is deemed to have worsened rate of infection during the second wave in India.6

1 This paper has been prepared with the objective of sharing information on some good examples in controlling the effect of COVID-19 pandemic. The views expressed are purely personal and do not reflect the views of UNESCAP. The authors are also thankful to the officials from the Ministry of Health, and the Department of Commerce, Government of India, as well as researchers for their review and comments.
2 See Second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in India: Barriers to effective governmental response, Sujita Kumar Kar et al., The Lancelet, 29 May 2021.
3 See Statista: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104054/india-coronavirus-covid-19-daily-confirmed-recovered-death-cases/
4 Ibid. Also see Indian Express: 3 lakh Covid-19 deaths in India: How far is the second wave peak?

5 See BBC: Covid-19: Has India's deadly second wave peaked?
6 See The Print: Delta variant behind India’s 2nd wave, 7 strains circulating in & around Varanasi, study finds.

 

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